Parliament has extended the term of National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai by one year.
The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) met and resolved to extend the clerk’s term as he hits retirement age of 60 next month.
Sialai’s term was to end on May 25, 2021, when he was set to retire but it has since been extended to July 2022.
This means the recruitment of a new clerk will start in February 2022.
In a letter to the Parliamentary Joint Services, PSC secretary Jeremiah Nyegenye announced that it would re-appoint Sialai on contract upon retirement.
Mr Nyegenye said the contract extension was to allow for a smooth transition in light of the proposed constitutional amendments, the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment), Bill 2020 being deliberated by the Senate and National Assembly.
“That considering the need to ensure a smooth transition in light of the proposed constitutional amendments expected to be deliberated by the Houses, and in order to discharge efficient and effective services and assist the Commission to undertake the relevant programmes to promote the ideals of Parliamentary democracy, upon his retirement, the commission resolves to appoint Mr Michael Sialai as clerk of the National Assembly, on contract, with effect from May 26, 2021, to July 31, 2022,” read the letter in part, addressed to Parliamentary Joint Services Director General Clement Nyandiere.
Parliament’s in-tray is full at a crucial time since the passage of the BBI Bill and the recommendations to enact a number of legislation in preparation for the 2022 polls is vital. According to the commission’s insider, the decision to hand Sialai the extension was arrived at to avoid disruption.
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“We are at a very important phase in the life of Parliament. The expertise of Sialai and to make sure there is no disruption is very critical. We know he is due to attain his retirement age but we are allowed to retain him for a period to ensure smooth transition,” said a source.
He added: “It is not just promoting or recruiting but getting an individual that will ensure continuity without any disruption.”
A number of senior parliamentary staff have been angling for the position and have started lobbying MPs to back their quest.
Mr Sialai was appointed National Assembly clerk in January 2017 replacing the late Justin Bundi.
As clerk, Sialai, is the Accounting Officer of the National Assembly. He is responsible for all policy and organisational matters relating to the National Assembly. He is also the chief advisor of the Speaker of the National Assembly.
He took over at a time when Parliament was grappling with a number of challenges such as lack of facilities for both members and staff. It also came at a time when the role of Parliament was under greater scrutiny from the public.
Sialai, a holder of a Master degree in History is lauded for his fairness and long service as a public officer and as an employee of Parliament.
MPs have described him as a leader who brings a wealth of experience spanning over twenty years in public service. He is also recognised for his sense of duty.
He was instrumental in breaking the ice after the disputed presidential election in 2017, which had NASA MPs boycotting House sittings and committees. Sialai reached out to all MPs and smooth operations resumed.